NP’s Nichelle headed to Miss USA competition

NP’s Nichelle headed to Miss USA competition

NORTH PROVIDENCE – When Jonét Nichelle, of North Providence, watched Crystle Stewart win the Miss USA crown in 2008, she told her mom that she wanted to achieve that title one day.

Twelve years later, Nichelle, 25, who was crowned Miss Rhode Island USA 2020 last fall, will be competing in the 2020 Miss USA competition at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday, Nov. 9. The competition will air live on A&E’s FYI channel at 8 p.m. EST.

“I’ve wanted to be Miss USA my entire life,” said Nichelle, who began competing in pageants when she was 10 months old. “I’m definitely excited.” While there will be more rules and regulations as a result of the pandemic, she said, “I’m still looking forward to the experience nonetheless.”

Nichelle, who grew up in Connecticut, said it’s definitely a challenge to work full-time while preparing for the competition, but noted that it’s taught her time management. She currently works at a halfway house but said after the competition she’ll begin a new full-time job as a juvenile corrections officer in Rhode Island. She also volunteers her time to a local shelter for victims and survivors of domestic violence.

She graduated from Post University with a bachelor’s degree in human services in 2017 where she said she worked a lot with at-risk youth.

A member of the Screen Actors Guild for more than 20 years, Nichelle said she’s appeared on an episode of “Law and Order” and as the voice of Baby Bear on “Blues Clues.”

A former track and field athlete and a dancer since age 2, she said she’s been working out daily to prepare for the competition, and she’s also been practicing mock interviews to get ready for the public speaking portion and personal interview with the judges.

“Preparing for Miss USA is definitely more challenging this year because of the pandemic,” she said. “A lot of things have been postponed or done virtually.”

Her sponsors include Scott’s Fitness and PageantPrep, both in Warwick, she said. She’s on a nutrition plan and has begun running again, she said, adding that she’s working closely with PageantPrep “getting ready for the stage.”

In October 2019 she competed against about 30 other young women and won the title of Miss Rhode Island USA, she said. She’s competed six other times in the past, including for Connecticut, she said, and each time has walked away from the competition learning something new about herself.

“This last time, I felt I was more ready to take on the title,” she said, adding that she felt relief at winning and then told herself “now the real work begins” to get ready for a bigger stage. “It’s exciting to have all my hard work come into place.”

She moved to Rhode Island when she became a cheerleader for the New England Patriots, she said. She cheered for one season and at Super Bowl LIII in 2019.

She said she likes North Providence and Rhode Island a lot, noting it’s more fast-paced than Connecticut.

Nichelle said she’s always had older role models who were involved in the Miss America and Miss Universe pageants, and said she plans to be the first Miss USA to appear as a Nike model.

Anyone tuning in to the Miss USA competition will see Nichelle and 50 other young women “who are incredibly talented and intelligent,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be an incredible show.”

She added that there will be lots of surprises, which even she’s not been told about yet.

Folks can also vote for their favorite contestant by downloading the Miss USA mobile app, she said, noting that Miss Rhode Island is number 40.